Singapore-style Poached Chicken and Chicken Rice

This recipe is inspired by the delicious chicken rice we had at Loy Kee Restaurant in Singapore recently. It seemed to me that it couldn’t be that difficult to replicate the tender and delicious poached chicken at home so I did a bit of reading and compared a number of recipes to come up with this easy to make version. Whist there are few different components involved if you want to have an authentic chicken rice meal with sauces and bok choy, none of it is difficult or complicated.

I also found that the leftover chicken was delicious for a shredded spicy chicken salad like the one we made at Spirit House Cooking School when we visited Yandina, Queensland about  a year ago. You can find my version here Simple shredded chicken salad

In fact, I would now use this method to make delicious poached chicken just on it’s own to use in chicken salads and/or sandwiches. You could vary the poaching ingredients, if you didn’t want the Asian ginger, garlic and spring onion flavour, but I love it.  Try it and I’m sure you’ll agree.

I have listed the recipes for each component separately below so you can see how easy just the poached chicken is to make.

For Chicken Rice and all accompaniments
Prep time: 25 minutes  Cooking time: 1.5-2 hours 

Poached Chicken
Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour
1 whole organic chicken (about 1.5kg), at room temperature
7 whole cloves garlic
4 thick slices ginger
4 spring onions, green leafy tops reserved for stock
2.5 litres water or chicken stock

Chicken Dressing:
Asian: 1 tbspn sesame oil and 2 tbspns soy sauce
Or Western: 1 tbspn olive oil mixed with 2 tbspn chicken stock

Method
Remove any fat from the cavity of the chicken and it’s extremities. Reserve the fat.
Pound 2 cloves of garlic with white part of spring onions and 1/2 tspn salt to form a paste.
Wipe the inside of the chicken dry with kitchen paper, then rub garlic and spring onion paste well all over the inside of the chicken
Put the chicken in a large stock pot, add rest of garlic, ginger, half reserved spring onion tops
Cover with water or stock and bring to slow rolling boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat so water is steaming well, but not bubbling.
Keep the heat at this level for 20 minutes without covering the pot. During this stage lift the chicken carefully once or twice just out of the poaching liquid, and then back in, to allow the water inside the chicken to drain out and be replaced with warmer liquid to ensure the chicken cooks from inside out as well.

Chicken poaching in stock for delicious Hainanese style chicken rice
Chicken poaching in stock for delicious Hainanese style chicken rice

Then turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow the chicken to steep in the stock for 30 minutes, then lift out the chicken, reserving the rest of the stock.
Brush the chicken skin with your preferred dressing (see above) and wrap with plastic wrap until required for serving. The chicken should be cooked very lightly, and be beautifully pale and with a transparent looking skin. Best served warm rather than hot.

Poached chicken sliced chinese style
Poached chicken sliced chinese style

Chicken Fat Oil:
Rider: This is definitely an option and I was initially very suspicious of this step but I can now see after making it and using it in the chicken rice the value it adds. If you think this is too much like heart attack material then just use 1 tbspn of vegetable oil to the rice when you are cooking it.

Put the reserved chicken fat in a small saucepan. (You don’t need much.)Cook over very low heat for about 1 hour while the chicken is poaching until the liquid fat renders away. Strain the fat pieces from the “oil” or liquid fat keeping the oil for the rice.

Rendering chicken fat to make chicken “oil”

Chicken Rice
Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes
1 tbsp chicken fat oil or vegetable oil
1.5 cups jasmine rice
2 cloves garlic and equal amount ginger chopped
1.25 litres of hot chicken stock
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tbsp light soy sauce
Heat 1 tbsp of the chicken fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and remaining 2 slices of ginger and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the rice and toss until well coated and turning translucent.  Add 1.25 litres of the reserved chicken stock, the salt and soy sauce. Cook in a rice cooker or simmer until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed. You might need to add extra chicken stock if using latter method.

Accompaniments:
Garnish for chicken: coriander sprigs, thinly sliced cucumber and spring onions sliced diagonally

Chilli Sauce
6 red birds-eye chillies
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbspn hot chicken stock
To make the chilli sauce, combine chillies, ginger, garlic, sugar and salt in a mortar and pound to a paste. Add the lemon juice and 1-2 tablespoons of hot chicken stock and pound again.

Spring onion and ginger sauce
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tspn sesame oil
1 tbspn hot chicken stock
Add the spring onion, ginger and salt to a heatproof mortar and pound until a paste forms. Add sesame oil and chicken stock and mix well.

Bok choy – chop 1 small bunch bok choy, steam bok choy or microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. Serve with light soy sauce drizzled over the top.

Sweet soy sauce – kecap manis or sweet sauce as an accompaniment is traditional to Singapore and Malaysia and Singapore delicious with the chicken rice.

Chicken Broth – strain remaining chicken stock through a fine sieve and reheat. Add spring onions and splash of soy sauce to enhance flavour.

Slice the chicken and garnish. Serve with the rice, condiments, broth and garnishes. Serves 4 or 2 with great leftovers.

Kamsila’s Chilli Sauce with apricot jam, garlic and mustard seeds

This is my cousin Kamsila’s recipe which I wrote down on my last visit to see my family in South Africa in 1997! It has stood me in good stead ever since. It is perfect to add that extra chilli bite when served alongside samosas, meatballs, or as a chutney with roast meats. It’s quick and easy to make but best if you soak the chillies and garlic in vinegar overnight. Lasts for up to 6 weeks stored in the fridge but is usually long gone by then in our household.

The recipe does use Indian pickling masala which combines chilli powder, salt, fenugreek, mustard seeds,nigella seeds,turmeric and asafoetida. Easy to buy pre-packaged at an Indian grocer or spice shop.

Example of packaged pickling masala available at indian spice shops
Example of packaged pickling masala available at indian spice shops

Prep time: marinate overnight, then 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
50g fresh red chillies stalks removed
5 cloves garlic
1 cup white wine vinegar
400g apricot jam
750mls good tomato sauce
1 tsp oil
2 tspns “pickling masala”
1 tspn black mustard seeds
Small handful of fresh curry leaves

Method
Soak chillies and garlic in vinegar overnight
Process in a small blender until liquidised
Add tomato sauce and apricot jam and masala and mix, don’t worry if apricot jam stays in chunks
Heat oil in non-stick frying pan, add mustard seeds and curry leaves and sauté for a minute
Add chilli, tomato, jam mixture to pan, simmer for 4-5 minutes
Cool and bottle in sterilised jars or serve immediately
Keeps for up to 6 weeks in fridge

Chilli, tomato and apricot jam simmering in oil, mustard seed and curry leaf mixture
Chilli, tomato and apricot jam simmering in oil, mustard seed and curry leaf mixture

Durban-style mince and pea Samosas with spring roll pastry

These crispy mince and pea pastry triangles are very different to the more commonly found “Indian” version which has a thick crusty pastry. I am not sure what the origin of this style of pastry is other than this is how they are made by the Indian community in Durban, South Africa and this is how I grew up eating them.

Back then in South Africa with larger households often with dedicated cooks,hours were spent making the crispy pastry from scratch and creating these delicious appetisers for special events or just afternoon tea. When we moved to Australia my mum, Tilly, found the ideal replacement pastry to be spring roll pastry initially found in Chinese and Asian specialty shops but now readily available in mainstream supermarkets.

Fillings can vary between fish, potato and peas, chicken mince curry…but my favouite remains the lamb mince and peas.

All my friends loved coming over to Tilly’s for her freshly made samosas and she has actually been called upon for lessons by some samosa addicts! Here’s the recipe with some hopefully helpful photos to help with the fiddliest part which is folding the triangles.

Prep Time: 1.5-2hours Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ingredients

Filling:
400g lean lamb or beef mince
1 cup frozen peas
1 onion very finely diced
1.5 tsp ginger and garlic pounded into paste
1 tspn turmeric
1 tspn garam masala
1/2 tspn cummin powder
3/4 tspn chilli powder
1/2 tomato finely diced
Handful of coriander very finely chopped
1 piece cinnamon bark
1 tspn cummin seeds
Handful of fresh curry leaves
1.5 tbspn vegetable oil
1/2 cup water

Pastry
1 pack spring roll pastry in square sheets
Pastry “glue: 2 tspns flour mixed with 3tspns water to make a thick flour glue in a seperate bowl.

Method
Heat oil in a large saucepan, add cinnamon bark, cummin seeds and curry leaves and fry briefly until fragrant and curry leaves have spotte “spitting”
Add onions and fry until translucent
Add ginger and garlic, turmeric, garam masala, cummin powder, chilli powder and mix through onions and warm through
Add mince to brown and mix thoroughly with onions and spices, breaking up all lumps of mince using the back of a fork.
When mince is totally separated and browned, add tomato, salt and coriander.

Break up all lumps with the back of a fork as you mix through onion spice mixture, over medium heat.
Break up all lumps with the back of a fork as you mix through onion spice mixture, over medium heat.

Add water and Simmer over medium heat, stirring regularly for 35 minutes until mince is cooked and has absorbed the flavour of the spices…you are aiming quite a dry mixture with no “sauce” so limit the amount of water you add.

Add tomato, coriander and water to mince mixture and simmer for 35 minutes.
Add tomato, coriander and water to mince mixture and simmer for 35 minutes.

Add frozen peas and allow to defrost and par-cook for 3-4 minutes
Remove from heat and allow to cool totally,for at least an hour before using
At the same time remove spring roll pastry from freezer and bring to room temperature leaving sealed in packet

Allow lamb and pea filling to totally cool
Allow lamb and pea filling to totally cool

Making the pastry triangles

Make your pastry glue, remove the pastry from the packaging and place between slightly damp tea towels to the side of your board or preparation space
Take one sheet of pastry and cut into 3 equal strips

Cut spring roll pastry sheets into 3 equal strips
Cut spring roll pastry sheets into 3 equal strips

Place a teaspoon full of mixture within 4-5cm from the top edge, turn the top edge of the pastry turning the right corner over to the left edge, over the filling to create a triangular pocket where the newly created right corner is completely “closed so the filling can’t fall out.

Turn the right hand edge to the left edge, over the top of 1 tspn of filling, enclosing filling, pushing it all in if needed and creating a triangular pocket. Make sure your right corner here is enclosed ...no hole for filling to escape from!
Turn the right hand edge to the left edge, over the top of 1 tspn of filling, enclosing filling, pushing it all in if needed and creating a triangular pocket. Make sure your right corner here is enclosed …no hole for filling to escape from!

This is the most important step to get right because you will then easily be able to turn the triangle over and over until you get to the end and can seal up the pastry with your glue.

Different stages of
Different stages of “turning” the pastry with filling to get to end of the strip, use glue along the way as required.

If you do find gaps or pastry overlaps along the way, use your glue to seal up the edges to craete a fully enclosed triangle. Spring roll pastry is quite “hardy” so don’t be afraid of it and as they say practice makes perfect so if might take a few attempts before you get the hang of it. Makes 24-36 small samosas.

Ready for fridge or freezer, fry before serving
Ready for fridge or freezer, fry before serving

You can freeze the samosas or Refrigerate for an hour or so to allow glue to seal before shallow frying in vegetable oil over medium heat until golden brown on each side. If frying directly from frozen, then you will want to lowe the heat slightly to allow the filling to defrost and heat through. One golden brown, place on kitchen paper towel to absorb oil. They really need to be served hot and crispy for best enjoyment. Delicious dipped in plain yoghurt or spicy chilli sauce for extra bite!

Durban-style mince and pea samosas with spring roll pastry
Durban-style mince and pea samosas with spring roll pastry

Best Chicken Rice at Loy Kee, Singapore

After extensive research into where to get the best chicken rice in Singapore, we settled on Loy Kee in Balestier Road. Established in 1953, Loy Kee has been dishing up the famed Hainan chicken rice for more than sixty years to loyal fans. A bonus is that Loy Kee opens at 9.30am so it’s perfect for a late breakfast or brunch.

Best chicken rice served up in restaurant surrounds at Loy Kee
Best chicken rice served up in restaurant surrounds at Loy Kee

It is also a great option if you don’t feel like eating at a Hawker’s Centre with table service, menus and atmospheric surrounds.
The menu features special sets with bok Choy, beautiful satiny chicken broth, 3 delicious sauces – ginger, light chilli and soy, the chicken rice itself and either poached or roast chicken. We chose to try both versions of chicken to taste the contrast and loved both.

Poached chicken special set with delicious sauces and bok choy
Poached chicken special set with delicious sauces and bok choy

The poached chicken was the most silky and tender I have ever eaten and the chicken rice was perfectly cooked and flavoured with chickeny goodness. The roast chicken was also delicious but slightly drier than the poached version, with a layer of crispy roasted chicken skin adding texture.

Roasted Hainanese chicken with crispy skin adding rexture and flavour
Roasted Hainanese chicken with crispy skin adding rexture and flavour

Accompanied with a big cup of chinese tea, this was one of the best meals we had on our quick but fun trip to Singapore. I was very motivated by this eating experience so check out my recipe for my Singapore style poached chicken and chicken rice.

Lau Pa Sat – Satay Street of Singapore

The hawker centre at Lau Pa Sat(old market) in the middle of Singapore’s CBD is situated in the original wet market building featuring beautiful colonial architecture. The original structure was relocated to this spot at 18 Raffles Quay from the waterfront in 1894 and a stunning clock tower which still chimes in the hour was added.

Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market
Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market

Now the building is home to a thriving hawker’s centre filled to the brim with stalls featuring cuisines from all over Asia and other parts of the world. Apparently at lunchtime all the local office workers flock to the centre for lunch.

Each evening the street in front of the Centre transforms hastily into what is know as Singapore’s Satay Street with stall after stall specialising in different styles of satay. The smoke from the charcoal fires fills the air with the it restive bbq aroma of satys cooking and plastic tables and chairs quickly become occupied with diners – locals and tourists alike!

A good tip is to sit towards the back of the street away from the cooking fires to avoid rhe smoke getting in your eyes and clothes. Also take wet wipes or extra napkins to avoid getting harassed by passing salespeople. We chose to eat at Stalls #7&8 which comes highly recommended. Table service is provided by waiters attached to each of the stalls. Servings are chosen by the number of sticks of satay and the mix of types you would like. We went for the mix of prawn, chicken, beef and mutton. Menus from other stalls in the hawker’s centre are also available so we ordered some rice and klankung to add a bit of green to our dinner.

Jugs of cold Tiger beer are $GD20 and the way to go if there are a few of you dining.

Charcoal grills set up for Satay Street market in front of Lau Pa Sat in Singapore
Charcoal grills set up for Satay Street market in front of Lau Pa Sat in Singapore

The satays arrive without fanfare but are some of the most delicious I have tasted. The spice mix on the prawn satays is especially good. The taste of the charcoal grilled meat With a delicious satay sauce is quintessially south-East asia.

Mixed satay at Lau Pa Sat outdoor satay market straight from the cbar coal grill with spicy satay sauce.
Mixed satay at Lau Pa Sat outdoor satay market straight from the char coal grill with spicy satay sauce.

A great way to get a quick, tasty and atmospheric dinner, in the midst of downtown Singapore, maybe before a visit to some of the amazing rooftop bars like One Altitude nearby?